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Sovereign: Nemesis - Book Two by April…
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Sovereign: Nemesis - Book Two

by April Daniels

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Danny is a full-fledged superhero, but she’s still struggling—with her parents, who are fighting her emancipation; with her friends, who aren’t always acting so friendly, and most of all with her anger, which makes her maybe a bit too fond of fighting. A new villain, working with transphobic Greywytch, might be enough to push her past the point of no return. The book is pretty explicit at showing how engaging in violence makes Danny feel better, but also endangers her friendships and ultimately her status as a hero. ( )
  rivkat | Dec 31, 2017 |
I loved this book! There are bunch of great characters who get good development over the course of the story. The villain is compellingly creepy. There's a new nonbinary character! This series is great and I hope there will be more soon! ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 8, 2017 |
Pros: great characters, interesting plot, complex issues

Cons: some interactions annoyed me, a bit heavy handed at times

Note: This review contains spoilers for Dreadnought, the first book in this series.

Nine months have passed since the events of Dreadnought, and Danielle has a contract to protect New Port City. She’s begun to love the feeling of power being a superhero provides, beating supervillians into submission in ways that Doc Impossible finds worrisome. Her relationship with Calamity has soured, though she’s not sure why, and multiple work and family issues occupy her thoughts. Soon after she hears news that Nemesis, the asteroid that creates quantum instabilities, is nearing Earth, a new supervillian emerges with a plan to harness its power for nefarious purposes.

I have mixed feelings about this book. There were several opening scenes that annoyed and/or made me uneasy. While some of these were dealt with in detail and worked out later on, others didn’t get much attention beyond the initial mentions.

In the first book Danielle was predominately characterized by optimism. Though her life was pretty terrible, when things got tough she constantly believed they would get better again. Dreadnought focused very specifically on Danielle’s concerns as a young woman coming of age in challenging circumstances. Sovereign broadens the outlook to show that most issues in life are complex and people can’t always be characterized as simply good or evil. Her sudden liking of violence and her enjoyment of beating people up was a little scary to read. While she’s in the pay of the government, she goes outside that purview on more than one occasion. The idea that might makes right is not ok, even if you’re the hero. Some would say, especially then. The book does deal with this, and I was happy with how the ending focused on the fact that emotional trauma doesn’t just go away with time.

I was impressed with how the author handled Sarah and Danielle’s relationship. I loved seeing young people talk frankly about their feelings and fears instead of drawing out the misunderstandings.

I enjoyed Kinetiq’s group work, but her first interaction with Danielle in the book kind of annoyed me. While I understand Kinetiq’s annoyance/anger that Dreadnought took credit for a group fight, their lack of consideration for Dreadnought’s age or current circumstances and insistence that she use every public appearance to push the transgender agenda ignores the fact that Dreadnought, as an acknowledged transgender superhero, already pushes that agenda.

Graywytch was an even more horrible character in this book than the last, though she doesn’t spout slurs this time. Reading about a TERF (Trans-exclusionary radical feminist) was painful. I find it hard to attach the label ‘feminist’ to women who believe transwomen aren’t ‘real’ women, as if there’s only one experience of womanhood and all ‘real’ women share it. But it’s good to face it in fiction, as it’s often through fiction (and other types of media) that people learn empathy and compassion, and that society collectively becomes more socially aware.

I didn’t think the book dealt with the Magma and Doc issue well. Both characters have valid complaints about what happened to the Legion, and sometimes there’s no right answer that pleases everyone. While Doc was under outside control and therefore wasn’t personally responsible for the murders her body committed, Magma does have the right be angry that Doc’s lies left the Legion at a disadvantage, and feel betrayed that she never shared who her mother was. The book takes Danielle’s POV that Doc wasn’t to blame and Magma should just get over it. But this ignores that he and Chlorophyll were left permanently disabled because of that attack. I think it’s understandable that they don’t want anything to do with Doc anymore.

In terms of world-building, the author mentions several of the laws that govern superhero work. Things like the ability to buy bystander insurance and that there are legal work limits for superhero minors. One issue that wasn’t mentioned, that I’d be curious to learn the answer to, is whether superheroes have to pay for property damage incurred during their legally sanctioned missions.

The book has a lot of excellent fight scenes, in a variety of settings. They propel the plot along and keep the pacing quick.

The plot itself was quite interesting. There’s a lot of different super powered people in this one, on all sides of the fence, and it was fun learning their different powers and where they land on the varied political spectrums.

While I didn’t like this book as fully as I did the first one, I was impressed that the author dealt with some difficult issues that many superhero books ignore. I thought Danielle’s development made sense given her life experiences, and am curious to see what the next book has in store for her. ( )
  Strider66 | Jul 18, 2017 |
Danny is back in this sequel to YA superhero book Dreadnought. Sovereign has it’s own plotline, but it continues the threat of Nemesis and Danny’s character growth. Thus, I’d recommend reading the series in order.

Nine months after Danny debuted as Dreadnought and publicly came out as lesbian and transgender, she’s stretched to the breaking point. She’s the only superhero defending New Port, her relationship with Calamity is strained, she’s still trying to get legally emancipated from her parents, and now there’s a new super villain on the loose. Danny won’t be able to fight him on her own. She’ll need to learn how to act as part of a team.

I picked up Sovereign when I was looking for something relatively light. Obviously, I forgot the dark undertones of Dreadnought. Sovereign feels even darker than the first book, with Danny now possessing anger issues and PTSD. There’s a bit too much substance here for Sovereign to be purely a popcorn book. While this series still works as a fun superhero read, I think it works at another level as well.

Sovereign also features the return of one of the most repellent villains I’ve ever read, Graywytch. I guess she’s effective at getting the reader to hate her, but oh my gosh she’s so horrible. She’s basically the lowest sort of internet scum (picture a TERF twitter troll harassing trans women) made into a comic book super villain. She’s probably one of those people who have their chromosomes in their twitter handle.

I do have a spoilerly note regarding problematic intersex representation. It’s seriously super spoilerly so read with caution. Graywytch has an evil scheme to kill everyone with a Y chromosome, but she ends up getting affected as well. Danny points out that Graywytch never bothered to have her chromosomes checked, and what’s happening to her is likely because she actually does have a Y chromosome — she’s intersex. On one hand, a TERF villain turning out to have a Y chromosome is wonderfully ironic. On the other hand, it’s pretty horrible representation for intersex people, getting thrown in as a plot twist and psychological punishment for the villain.

My other main criticism would be that Danny and Sarah got together awfully quickly. Maybe this is just me not getting how romantic relationships work… they did know each other for a while before hand. It just seems strange to have it happen so suddenly like that.

I’m really growing fond of these characters. I think Doc Impossible is my favorite. She just gives me so many feels! I love Danny having a supportive if troubled parental figure in her life. Additionally, Sovereign also introduces a nonbinary supporting super hero. Basically, this is a pretty good superhero series centered around queer and female characters. I think I liked Sovereign even more than the first book.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
  pwaites | Jul 12, 2017 |
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Publisher Annotation: Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she?s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it?s only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there?s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.… (more)

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